A Snow Day Poem

Having a snow day today, I decided to try an exercise from my padlet. I decided to pick page 151 of Kate Messner’s book 59 Reasons to Write. I call it a Phone Number Poem.It’s a poetry warmup in her Chapter 9 – Poetry. The directions say to pick a theme (I picked things I’m doing on my snow day) and then write your phone number down the length of the page. Each number represents the number of words to add per line and 0 equals any number you choose. Then write a poem!


7-   March 14 – Pi Day and Snow Day!

0 –  Random, repeating number celebrated with March snowstorm

3-   Unexpected rest day

3-   Unexpected breathe day

0-  Happily finishing three time-sucking tasks

7-  Completing taxes easily and scored sizable refund

6-  Starting to grade writing published pieces

6-  Happily finished reading book club novel

8-  Returned to grade writing pieces, least favorite task


9-  For me, any words written should earn high scores

Yet, specific feedback is suggested so back to using rubric to grade writing.


My Process: After picking my theme, I randomly, without thinking of word count per line, wrote these ideas:

Snow Day!
So quiet, except for the noise made as the wind blows the snow off the limbs
And the crunch of the neighbor’s snow shovel clearing his walkway
Unexpected day of rest
Unexpected time to catch my breath
Finished a book
Completed my taxes and am getting a sizable refund
Grading writing papers I’d been avoiding
Hate giving writing grades because to me, any words on a blank page is a high score
Yet specific feedback is suggested

Then using the numbers of my phone number to guide the word count by line, I began to form my poem. It definitely helped to have 2 zeros!! I also liked having 2 threes next to each other which I used as a little repetition. I cheated a little at the end but that’s the great thing about poetry. You can’t really do it wrong!! I found this to be a fun way to write! You might like to try it, too!!

Currently, I am…

Currently, I am…

sautéing cabbage on the front, left burner and giving it a good stir every 5 minutes.

cooling a bagful of cooked egg noodles in a colander which I just removed and drained from the front-right burner.

boiling a corned beef slab of meat, 2 hours down with one to go on the back, right burner.

baking gorgonzola and onion puffed pastries in the oven as an appetizer to tide us over until the corned beef is done.

pouring myself a glass of wine as a treat for the chef to enjoy as I await the now 42 minutes until the timer goes off for the meat.

reading the novel as I wait, A Man Called Ove…loving it!!

Happy early St. Patrick’s Day!!


Why early?
Next Friday on March 17th, I’ll be in NYC to enjoy the Reunion Saturday at TCRWP.
Will YOU be there??!!!

NOTE: I wrote about my 2015 St. Patrick’s Day HERE

AND here in 2014 where I included the recipe

Change sprinkled with Routine

As 2017 starts, I focus on my OLW – Routine. I know I feel comfort when in routine. I know that discombobulated feeling that comes when change is demanded.  I thought about this as I reflected on my 2016 Christmas.

Tree was decorated in the living room,

not cut down after a drive out to the country, like those first few years.

Blue, green and white-flashing lights wrapped it and ornaments hung,

no hand-made ornaments received as the kids are both 20+ years old.

Most presents shipped via Harry and David and gift cards mailed

so not many presents to wrap and place under the tree

Christmas Eve meal cooked by me this time, included stuffed cabbage and egg nog

no Grandma’s house to visit  to eat Grandma’s stuffed cabbage because Grandma is no longer here.

A highlight was an unexpected trip into DC to view ZooLights.

We entered the zoo gate and saw this:


and then this:


and this:

and then this:


and I happily stood and posed with my daughter here:


Now I plan to make a visit to ZooLights my new routine. Somehow unexpected fun helps accept the unexpected changes of the season.


Celebrating with a CURRENTLY poem

I celebrate that I am…


Perusing emails to double check all the end of school year tasks still to be completed

Responding via text message to people whose path I want to cross but busy times haven’t allowed yet

Searching for clever, engaging videos/activities to share as end of year inspiration

Listening to so many birds as I sit at home with all the windows open

Checking and double-checking all the events scheduled for the end of the year

Jotting notes into the last four weekly google doc charts

Reflecting on all the great learning done during the 4th quarter and during the whole 3rd grade year

Plotting the last 4 months of lessons to implement

Reading or rather planning my stack of summer books to read with a few to be purchased today at the bookstore

Sending emails to have my students present at the District Festival of the Minds conference

Considering the new couch to be ordered from Restoration Hardware

Anticipating a relaxing summer in my new house with time to rest

Sipping a venti no-whip hot chocolate

Playing with words, always a challenge but always rewarding

Pushing though to get to June 25th, my first day of summer vacation!

What are you CURRENTLY doing?

** Special thanks to my daughter, Anne (also a blogger) whose post HERE inspired me to write this today.

2016 Funeral

I got an email yesterday that read:

I will email you the short prayer service video for D held at the funeral home. You will be very moved and very proud of your former students, T, C, and E. T and C are speakers and E reads the petitions.

And many thoughts went through my mind.
Thoughts of sadness for this family. I met them as their children’s teacher and then we stayed friends. I recalled how proud D’s wife was when T got accepted into college. “Must have been that great 4th grade teacher he had,” I joked with her.
Thoughts about how technology changes our world so much. And now, I guess, even the exiting of our world. Because we can record so easily, I guess it is an option now. Who knew?
I immediately thought back to 1988, October. Did I speak? No. Instead, I was busy trying to find a black maternity dress because I was days past my due date for my first child to be born. D and my dad exited this world in the same way – sudden heart attack. He at age 72 and mine at age 55. Neither meeting any grandchildren.

If I had a video of my dad’s funeral service, would I rewatch it? I’m not sure I would. Instead, I liked that the email I got also said:

The family played highlights from C’s wedding, including D’s moving toast to C and walking her down the aisle.
With my dad and the technology available prior to 1988, I can only cherish photos and I do. I am also glad that I used Judith Viorst poem, What Dads Do to write my own poem last year about my dad. (I wrote about the writing of this poem HERE.) It goes like this:

What Dads Do by Sally Donnelly, inspired by Judith Viorst
(Click HERE to read Judith Viorst’s poem)

Throws parties
Makes people laugh
Creates good times for all
Signs his signature in the fanciest way
Draws amazing illustrations for your school book report
Buys you just the present that you need
Visits you when you are away at college
Treats you and your friends to strawberry daiquiris.

Dads work hard,
play hard
and laugh big.
I wish I still had one.

Celebrate – Moms and Poetry!!

Today I celebrate the magical hour spent in my classroom yesterday!!

I invited all moms and grandmas to come to our Morning Meeting in my 3rd grade classroom on Friday. My mom came (and it was even her 81st birthday!). Almost all my students brought along a mom (20/22!) and three brought grandmas and one grandpa tagged along too.

I asked them to bring a poem they liked and the day before I asked each student to pick a poem that either they had written or just one they liked. Then they practice saying it to a partner 10 times!

I recalled from last May, Judith Viorst saying when she visited my classroom, that I should encourage children to memorize poetry. She said, “A poem should live inside their body.” (click HERE to read about her visit last year!)

So as I awoke Friday morning, I practiced my poem 10 times, too. I wanted to be able to recite it and have it live IN me!! I had chosen my favorite – Dreams by Langston Hughes.

Then at 9am, the magic happened!! My mom, one student whose mom couldn’t attend and me started. Jackson told a riddle – A man lived in a one-story house with a pink door, pink shutters, pink couch, pink, table, pink bed and pink lamp. What color were the stairs?  (answer at the bottom!!)

I recited using hand motions, Dreams and my mom read Trees by Joyce Kilmer.
Then, as a symphony share, turns were taken.
Lots of Shel Silverstein
Lots of poems written by the student reader
A piece of Shakespeare read at Elle’s mom’s wedding
A piece written by Paul that a mom explained helps her be a better wife and mom and friend that started with the line “Love is kind…”
Then a grandma said she didn’t have a poem but she likes to sing and asked us to sing along…
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…”
That’s when my eyes teared up!

Magic happens when moms and kids can just stop and take time to listen to poems and share a favorite!!

I celebrate moms and poetry, celebrated yesterday during a magical Morning Meeting!


Riddle Answer – There is no stair – it is a one-story house!!

Celebrating Poetry Writing using Online Poet Websites and Kidblog

Looking back on teaching writing last week in 3rd grade, I see it as a week with not enough time. We had a special science unit to share, led by a resource teacher, so something had to give. Instead of a good 45-60 minutes of Writing Workshop, only about 30 minutes happened. However, looking back, I can celebrate that with wonderful online poetry models and with the tool, Kidblog as a place to easily draft our poems, LOTS still got done during Writing Workshop!!!

First, I placed links to 6 poets in Google Classroom and each day held a 4-7 minute mini-lesson where I simply clicked on one poet’s website and shared one of their poems. Then I suggested that my students try either to draft their own poems now or continue to read more poems, searching for more inspiration. Then I sent all off to work as poets.

Our Google Classroom page looks like this:

For example, on Wed, I shared how Amy reads the Wonderopolis Wondering of the Day and then write and posts a poem related to the wondering (Thank you Educators Collaborative for sharing Amy last Saturday so I could learn about her and her The Poem Farm website!!)
Wednesday night,  I looked on my class Kidblog and saw that Lucas was inspired to write this after he noticed that Amy had written a 26 line poem about Compost, starting each line with the letters A-Z:
and a day later, Lucas’ poem inspired William to begin drafting this:
All because Amy showed us the ABCs of Composting inspired by What is Fertilizer?!!!

On another day, I shared J. Patrick Lewis’ page of POEMS/RIDDLES that looks like this:

Next thing I see on Madeline’s Kidblog page is this:


I also shared Kenn Nesbitt’s poem, Joe the Emoji!

My students already have been using emoji to tell their stories and I wrote about it  HERE. 
Now they are having fun writing poems and songs using lots of emoji. My class regularly takes movement breaks using GoNoodle as our guide. Now the songs we move to there are being written in emoji on Kidblog!! Here’s one example:

I recall one of the Poetry presenters during the Saturday Educator’s Collaboration Day say that when she hears teachers say they don’t have time for poetry, she will fire back, “Do you have 20 seconds to read aloud a poem?” Last week, I did not have the time to run a regular hour-long Poetry Writing Workshop. But my students proved to me that just being exposed to a poem, a riddle, or a song for a few minutes was all they needed to write some fun poetry!!

What poetry are YOU sharing TODAY during National Poetry Month?!!
Be sure to make the time! You’ll be amazed at what gets produced.

A Long Phone Call (as a found poem)

As I prepare to teach a Poetry Unit, I found directions for writing a FOUND POEM on the amazing  website of Kenn NesbittHow to Create a Found Poem

Using the directions, I took the slice I wrote on March 22 and used the words to FIND A POEM inside!

First, I copied the words into a word document and highlighted some in YELLOW.

Then I opened a second blank word document. I started to add on the blank page, the highlighted words to form a poem. It looked like this on my computer screen:

And now here is my slice of Life today –

A Long Phone Call
(as a found poem)

I texted, “I’m free to chat today”
“How about in 20 minutes?”
A happy face reply
I send.
The phone rings
To free up my hands
I place the phone on speaker
And asked, “So tell me why this company?”
Lots of rattling off of lists
Of ideas that attracted her
Clarifying questions posed
Brainstorming together
And clearer answers practiced.
A beep from the phone signals “low battery”
and shows the beginning of
hour three of this conversation.
“I think I better go. I hope this helped.”
Now off the phone
I think
Hire her.
Any company
would be lucky.
Now off the phone
I plead
Treat her well,
As a valued employee
With time off to enjoy
and not just work.

Before That

Before That

I opened my eyes, removed the earplugs from my ears, turned off my kindle and the light and went back to sleep.

I climbed into bed, propped up with 2 pillows, placed the ear plugs into my ears, clicked on my kindle fire and picked Episode 49 of House of Cards to view.

I turned on the shower, very hot, to soothe my aching muscles.

I enjoyed pizza and popcorn while watching my favorite basketball team, Virginia, move into the Elite Eight after beating Iowa State easily.

I texted my friend, “Did you see that move?” as I watched the instant replay to actually see the behind-the-back pass.

I watched a VA player bring the ball down the court, and then suddenly he didn’t have the ball but the player on his right did and he scored.

I saw Anna at Pietaza as I picked up a pizza to enjoy while watching the VA basketball game.

I washed my hands, covered with dirt from cutting away the overgrown bamboo seeping into our yeard from our neighbor’s yard.

I grabbed the rake, the branch trimmer and lawn waste bags and headed to the back yard.

I drove home glad to have connected with a SOL blogging friend in person.

I drove two counties over to meet in person a SOL blogging friend for breakfast.

I awoke ready to start my seventh day of Spring Break.

I’ve seen this form of poetry last year and this year.
With days to go in this challenge, describing my Friday in this form, seemed to work.

Since Last March

Thanks, Fran McVeigh for teaching me this poetry format who learned it from Erin Baker’s “Since Last March” found here.

By Sally Donnelly

Since last March, I’ve taken with my mom to her grandkids
A grandson in Long Beach, CA to see him play volleyball
A granddaughter in Chicago, IL to see her while studying in the windy city
A grandson in Chesapeake VA to watch him sign to play college baseball at Tennessee.

Since last March, my “baby” turned twenty-four
Twenty-four and a school-based sub at my school
Twenty-four and helping me with all-things-tech and anchor charts for my classroom
Twenty-four and nudging me to eat more vegetables like brussel sprouts

Since last March, I’ve said good-bye to working at Janney ES
Goodbye to Morning Jamboree and only teaching 5th Grade Writing
Goodbye to the city-life in Tenleytown
Goodbye to Friday Happy Hours shared with great colleagues

Since last March, I’ve said hello to working at Discovery ES
Hello to a 2-mile drive (and sometimes walk) to work
Hello to taking the indoor, yellow slide downstairs
Hello to teaching all subjects to a great group of bright 3rd graders

Hello, March, 2016.
A year to travel to NYC and the beach
A year to see my oldest graduate from UChicago
A year to get settled in our newly built house!

Hello, March.
It’s time to write!


As a writing teacher, I try to spy on myself to see how I did something so I can show another.
For this poem, I did this:
1. Gathered the stems from Fran’s poem –
I’ve taken a trip to…
My baby turned…
Good-bye to…
Hello to..
2. Looked at my facebook and photos on my phone to see what I had done since last March. That helped me to see that I’d taken my mom on three trips!

March – challenge with Scott and Fran and Mary
April – Spring Break in Long Beach CA
May – winery birthday party
June – a year at Janney…summer of writing
July – NYC Reading Institute
KY/Chicago/Ohio road trip with mom
August –
September – new school
Oct – NYC
Nov – Richmond Thanksgiving
watch Garrett sign to play baseball at UT
Dec – Moved!!
Jan – blizzard
Feb – settling in
March – time to write!
I’m not a natural poet so poetry forms like this help!! And I still want to ADD photos but no time today. Thanks, Fran for helping me be a poet!!